The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.
ST. LOUIS — In recent weeks, two kids ages 12 and 14 were shot and killed by a gun they were handling. So, could there be a criminal case against the person who owns the gun?
Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, takes a closer look at the laws related to these types of incidents in this week’s Legal Lens with FOX 2’s Vic Faust.
How can these crimes with a minor and gun be prosecuted?
“There are really two situations we are talking about,” said McNairy. “First is the prosecution, the criminal context of the case. First, a minor can be charged as an adult or juvenile for knowingly shooting a firearm at someone unless it’s self-defense. However, the claim you unknowingly shot a firearm there can still be criminal. Repercussions for adults, parents, or other adults who allow potential access to that firearm for endangering the welfare of a child.”
“So, an adult who allowed access to a firearm can be charged with a class a felony or class b felony depending on whether knowingly allowed or if it was criminally allowed.”
What about from a civil standpoint when parents are involved?
“Civil cases have a lower burden of proof,” McNairy said. “It’s not beyond a reasonable doubt more likely than not. There is something called the Parental Responsibility Act, and you can be liable for any judgment entered against a minor child. Meaning, if a minor is sued for injuring or causing death to another person and a judgment is rendered, then a parent is liable for paying that judgment.”
Does it seem like we are having more of those cases?
“Statistically, we are having more,” said McNairy. “The best advice and what most responsible gun owners will tell you is that you have to be careful with restricting access to them and make sure people can’t access them without adult supervision or owner’s supervision.”